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The city of Grand Marais looking at 29 percent increase in health insurance

Sep 01, 2017 11:05AM ● Published by Editor

From Staff Reports from The Cook County News Herald - September 1, 2017

The city of Grand Marais is looking at a projected increase of 29 percent for its medical insurance, City Finance Director Kim Dunsmoor said at the city council’s Aug. 30 meeting.

Dunsmoor learned about the increase while attending an insurance advisory meeting for groups belonging to the Northeast Regional pool. She said North Shore Health was looking at a projected five percent increase and the county a one percent increase in health insurance premiums.

“In past years we have had lower claims ratings than the county and hospital,” Dunsmoor said.

When asked why the city would get such a high increase, Dunsmoor said the city had a small pool of workers and had some large claims last year.

“We had 10 percent budgeted for an increase in our budget drafts,” said City Administrator Mike Roth, “but now we will look at adjusting that.”

If the 29 percent increase sticks, Roth said that would add more than $20,000 to the upcoming budget and levy.

Dunsmoor said there would be choices for other plans with higher deductibles.

The exact increase for the city’s Blue Cross Blue Shield health care won’t be known until late September, Dunsmoor said. 

Council approved a request for proposals for the city Stormwater Plan. Roth said the deadline is Sept. 15 to receive bids back. The city has a $7,500 grant from the Lake Superior Coastal Program that will help pay for the stormwater plan, and Roth said a discussion would be held at an upcoming council meeting about what will be done and how much the cost of stormwater improvements will be. “We have a lot of places where we can find money, but we need to determine the scope of the work,” Roth said after the meeting.

With two board members gone, Tim Kennedy and Mayor Jay Arrowsmith DeCoux, the council tabled a discussion about the North House lease. Grand Marais City Attorney Chris Hood had looked over the contract between the city and North House and found that quite a few changes had to be made, said Roth. The last time the document had been examined by an attorney was 2004.

Councilor Tracy Benson asked for a special meeting to be set up so that both of the missing councilors could attend and talk about the lease.

North House Director Greg Wright was on hand, and he spoke. He brought up results of an as yet not released impact study that shows what impact North House has in the county.

Wright said a 2006 Impact assessment showed North House brought in about $6.1 million, but, he added, “We have grown about 81 percent since then, and we are somewhere over $10 million per year now.”

Growth at the folk school has occurred in January, February, March, and other off-season months, Wright said.

“That’s great for North House, for Grand Marais and the county as well,” added Wright.

Another interesting fact brought forth from the impact study, said Wright, was that “for every two dollars spent on tuition, there is $17 generated in this county.”

Roth talked about the public visioning for the road work project that will go through Grand Marais on Highway 61 in 2019. Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT) had transferred the engineer the city was working with to a larger project in Duluth, but talks were going well.

Council will look at the final draft of the 2018 budget at its next meeting, and Roth said, “We will also look at 2019. The debt payment for the public works facility in 2018 is preliminary, but will increase substantially in 2019.”

Benson asked about the community visioning plan which is being put together by Community Design Group. Roth said a draft would be done soon, and the public can review that draft and make suggestions “about anything that we have missed” on the city’s website. 


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